What’s Online Therapy Like? Is It Really Effective?

What’s Online Therapy Like? Is It Really Effective?

Do you wonder about working with a therapist from your home? More therapists are offering online therapy.  It’s a safe way to limit the risk of exposure to COVID-19. And it’s a valid way to help people achieve better mental health.

Online therapy isn’t something you have to “settle for” as less effective. Studies show teletherapy can work just as well as in-person care.

What Is Online Therapy?

Online therapy allows you to get counseling and other mental health services remotely. Psychologists also call this teletherapy.

A definition of teletherapy is phone-based or online sessions with a psychologist or psychotherapist. Other terms include telemental health, telepsychology, telehealth, online counseling services or virtual therapy.

Just How Effective Is Virtual Therapy?

Online counseling is not just an alternative when people can’t meet face-to-face. Online and phone therapy offers continued support regardless of location or other restrictions. 

One study of people using virtual behavioral health services for 8 weeks found:

  • Had 38% fewer hospital admissions
  • Were 63% more likely to have fewer days in the hospital
  • Were more likely to engage in their healthcare

It’s not just convenient – it’s also a productive way to work together.

What Are the Benefits of Online Counseling for Mental Health?

Talking with a therapist remotely has unique benefits. Some of the advantages of online therapy vs. face-to-face therapy are:

  • Keep up the good work — Online access helps you keep an ongoing session schedule regardless of your location.
  • Personal safety — You can work with your therapist remotely when meeting face-to-face is less safe.
  • Convenience – Talk with your therapist without having to go anywhere.
  • Cost savings – Eliminate travel expenses by cutting out the trip to the therapist’s office.
  • More context — Therapists can sometimes get a better sense of a client in their own setting, and understand the client’s world better with video.
  • Accessibility — It can help clients get real professional help they otherwise couldn’t take advantage of.
  • More channels — Online therapy often opens doors to other tools such as chat and session recording for clients who want them.

In-person therapy has its benefits too. Some of the disadvantages of online therapy vs in-person therapy are:

  • Less visible body language: It can be harder for client and therapist to read body language.
  • Connection issues: Technical glitches can interfere with verbal and nonverbal cues during a conversation.
  • Less clarity: There may be more risk of miscommunication (“Is that person tearing up?”).
  • Privacy concerns: Lack of privacy may be a greater risk if others can overhear a conversation.
  • Limited interaction with children: Telehealth is not compatible with conventional play therapy for young children.
  • Physical separation: Virtual therapy can limit the comfort of a physical human presence.

Security is a valid concern. Nobody wants to compromise privacy. That is why it’s important to use a secure platform for virtual counseling. 

Our therapists use doxy.me to offer teletherapy. It is HIPAA compliant – meaning it meets legal requirements for data security and privacy of your medical information.

Our platform works on a regular computer or smartphones via teletherapy apps.

What If Teletherapy Feels Awkward?

We tend to think of therapy as in-person care.  For people who are used to meeting face to face, the transition to online therapy may take some getting used to at first.

Therapists and clients both have had to make adjustments to new tools and a new way of working together.

It is normal to go through an adjustment period. Being separated from someone you used to see in person may be unsettling at first. You may feel kind of far away.

That’s because you are. A sense of distance can be uncomfortable. Discomfort is an important signal important to address.

Your body is telling you the truth – you sense a separation. If you feel uncomfortable, we won’t brush it aside. Can you trust this connection? We know that healthy attachment and close understanding can happen across space and time. Talking through the challenges of connection in this difficult time is part of how we will navigate it together.

It takes courage to face fears, no matter what your situation. Teletherapy can offer you ongoing support so you don’t have to struggle alone.

We’re Here to Help

We are here to answer your questions. We look forward to helping you in person as soon as conditions allow.  Meanwhile, contact us to find out if teletherapy can work for you and your family

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Were Here When You Need Us

Contact Mount Vernon Therapy, for confidential, caring couples therapy, individual therapy and marriage counseling.  703-768-6240

Serving Alexandria, Annandale, Arlington, Belle Haven, Burke, Fort Belvoir, Fort Hunt, Franconia, Groveton, Huntington, Hybla Valley, Mount Vernon and other Northern Virginia locations

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